Simon, King of the Witches (1971)
“You know from the day you are born if you are a magician or not.” This opening phrase is one of the many quotable lines from the 1971 exploitation horror flick—Simon, King of the Witches. I admit I am paraphrasing here, but the film full of such good sayings, and that one reminds me of the old Satanic adage of “Satanists are born, not made.” The titular character of Simon is a fine example of a de facto Satanist.
Simon is a warlock from birth, confident in his abilities and always delivering the magical goods to his ability. At first, he starts as a mere vagrant. His life takes a turn for the better when he becomes a benefactor for a rich and flamboyant man called Hercules. Simon is needed to throw a curse towards one of Hercules’ enemies, which Simon does with adroit skill, proclaiming that his enemy will die in two days. The subsequent revenge happens on the dot. Because of occult prowess, the money starts rolling in as Simon is sought after by many customers for magical services.
Simon, King of the Witches is one big 99-minute Satanic proclamation with Simon going so far as telling the gods that he is one of them and that he will join them in the other realm as an equal. To any Satanist, this is familiar territory. After all, do we not approach the Crown Princes of the pit and ask them to greet us as “brother (or sister) and friend?” Simon does not grovel but aims to self-actualize as the god he is destined to be.
One of the best aspects of this film is Simon’s friendship with Turk, a goofy but kind-hearted male prostitute whom he takes under his wing like a younger brother. Simon is not all seriousness or curses; there is a caring nature to him as shown with Turk, who follows him around like a puppy—genuinely curious about the magical arts of which Simon is a master. While watching this film, it reminded me of the relationship between young Arthur and Merlin in the Disney animated feature, Sword in the Stone. Turk comes to Simon for advice, and the warlock is more than happy to help his young friend navigate the world. Simon also catches the eye of a young woman named Linda, and although she is warned not to involve herself with such a man, she cannot help but fall to his devilish charm. Simon exudes his desire for her after a ritual by saying, “All I touch are corrupt. Joyously into sin, deeper and deeper until the gods stand defenseless. Then I conquer.”
Watching Simon, King of the Witches is also like going into a magical ritual itself. The whole production is wrapped up in schlocky, trippy, and groovy 70s trappings. One of the scenes feels like director Bruce Kessler pulled a psychedelic version of 2001: A Space Odyssey out of his bag of tricks, and we’re just along for the ride.
So strap up, set your mind free, and believe in magic for an hour and a half. Simon is here to dazzle you!
[- D.A. Marshall]
Movie on IMDB